Yankees complete a trade with the Dodgers to bolster depth in a 2-for-1 swap

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals
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After plenty of waiting, it’s been reported that the Dodgers and Yankees have completed a trade to help Los Angeles clear room on their roster for Joe Kelly and Shohei Ohtani. Coming off the heels of a record-shattering contract that includes deferred payments, but has been reported as a 10-year $700 million deal, the Dodgers needed some space on their 40-man roster to make the move official, and the Yankees sorely need pitching depth following their trades for Juan Soto, Trent Grisham and Alex Verdugo.

The Yankees will part ways with former first-round pick Trey Sweeney in return for LHP Victor Gonzalez and infielder Jorbit Vivas. New York adds to their bullpen depth with a high-upside left-handed reliever, and they get an infield replacement who can get Major League reps in 2024.

Dodgers and Yankees Complete Deal, Yankees Add to Roster Depth

Syndication: The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City’s Jorbit Vivas (2) scores in the second inning during the PCL Championship Series baseball game between the Oklahoma City Dodgers and the Round Rock Express at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023.

Adding some much-needed left-handed relief depth, the Yankees get an arm in Victor Gonzalez who can really help their bullpen. The 28-year-old southpaw has three years of control remaining and this past season had a 4.01 ERA and 3.40 FIP, sporting a high groundball rate (54.3%) due to his hard sinker which he uses to get soft contact on the ground. The left-hander sported a .669 OPS against left-handed hitters, which is exactly what the team was looking for, and it’s not as if his numbers against righties were bad either. Right-handed hitters only mustered a .590 OPS against Gonzalez, and he should be a huge boost for their bullpen.

He’s struggled to stay healthy, maxing out at just 35.1 innings in an MLB season back in 2021, but his career 3.22 ERA and 3.35 FIP are certainly enticing. Having a pitcher who doesn’t give up the long ball in your bullpen is huge when coming over to the AL East, and we could see Gonzalez really flourish in a reliever role for New York. Steamer projects him to put up a 3.86 ERA this season, and with the Yankees’ lack of left-handed relievers, adding an arm who can give them high-leverage innings will certainly be of use.

While the Yankees had to part ways with a solid infield prospect like Trey Sweeney, it’s hard to be upset when you also get a left-handed infielder in return. Jorbit Vivas was excellent in Double-A in his age-22 season, slashing .280/.391/.436 in 109 games before being called up to Triple-A. He walked more than he struck out while in Double-A, and swiped 21 bases in just 25 attempts as well, playing mostly second base and third base and looking like a contact-first hitter who can give the Yankees insurance in their infield, as third base is still a question mark.

mlb: game two-new york yankees at boston red sox, dj lemahieu
Sep 14, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Yankees first baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) hits a base hit against the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Vivas struggled upon following a promotion to Triple-A with a 63 wRC+ and .294 SLG%, but as he gets a full offseason to adjust to the new level, he could make his debut in 2024. MLB Pipeline has Vivas as the Dodgers’ #10 prospect, and while Trey Sweeney is in a similar range for the Yankees (#8), the Yankees likely valued the addition of a controllable left-handed reliever enough to make the swap. The impending free agency of Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Tommy Kahnle means that the Yankees need to make sure they have internal options for the next few seasons, as it’s unlikely all three come back.

For the Dodgers, they get a hitter in Trey Sweeney who has been a slow starter but has consistently been able to put up solid numbers as he’s progressed through the Minor Leagues. His defense at shortstop hasn’t been as much of an issue as initially perceived to be, and it’s certainly a shocker to see the Yankees deal a recent first-round pick as they push towards a likely Triple-A promotion for next season. Overall, the Yankees get relief help after losing Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez while adding an infielder to replace Sweeney, and the Dodgers are able to clear the spots necessary to make the Ohtani and Kelly signings official.